TUC backs Barnado’s calls for UK asylum seekers to work

The TUC has backed calls from children’s charity Barnado’s to allow UK asylum seekers to work.

The charity’s report – ‘Like any other child’ – published today, calls for the Home Office to re-address the current UK asylum process, including giving asylum seekers who have been in the UK more than six months the right to work.

The report states parents are often desperate to work and pay their way in the UK, yet the system does not allow this. As a result approximately 100,000 vulnerable children are condemned to a childhood of poverty, uncertainty and fear after being caught up in a UK asylum backlog.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “Banning asylum seekers from working condemns them and their families to poverty while they await the outcome of their asylum claims. With cases often taking months and even years to resolve, asylum seekers face the stark choice of trying to survive on meagre benefits, paid at a lower rate than everyone else, or of exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous employers in the informal economy.”

Barnardo’s chief executive, Martin Narey, said: “For those [asylum seekers] whose cases have been languishing in the old system, often for years, there is a desperate need for a new approach and in particular a moral and economic case for allowing parents trapped in the backlog to work and support their children. Often they have skills the UK needs and they have no wish to live on government handouts.”

The TUC promised to continue to work with Barnardo’s and other organisations to press ministers to change the law to enable asylum seekers to work and make a contribution to the UK economy.

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